|(photo credit, Cole Bingham)|
"You have never talked to a mere mortal." - C.S. Lewis
I got an email from my good friend Windy a few days ago. She just returned from Nicaragua...my Nicaragua. While Windy (on the left here) was there, she visited La Chureca, the Managua city dump that is home to several hundred families. While at LaChureca, Windy said she ran into a friend of mine... Carolina.
Tears immediately form in the corners of my eyes as I look at the picture. I am thrilled beyond words to see Carolina. She looks good. She is smiling. And she is a mom now. She is holding her 6 month old daughter, Rosa.
My mind is full of questions for Windy...
How is Carolina? Is she still in school? How is her family? Is she still working at the feeding center? Is she in church? Did she get married? Who's the father? Is Rosa well? Does Carolina still remember me?
Quickly after the immediate questions, the real emotions flood into my heart - sadness and shame. I'm sure that may sound a bit strange to you.
But, I owe Carolina an apology. You see, she and I had a deal.
She was the girl who grabbed my hand three and a half years ago as we hiked to the top of the trash dump. She was the girl who squeezed my hand so tight I had to wiggle my fingers for fear of my hand going numb while we prayed. Carolina was the girl who drew a picture with crayons of the two of us together when we took them out to lunch. She was the girl who ate my meal so that she could take her meal back to her brother and sister at home. She was the girl who laughed at me and meager attempts at the Spanish language.
You see, we had a deal. As I got onto the bus after that first meeting, I told her that if she stayed in school, I would continue to send her school supplies and money for uniforms. I told her I would be back.
She was the girl I visited twice more after that day. She was the girl I wrote to for almost 2 years and sent backpacks full of paper and pens and flip flops to.
She was the girl who changed my life.
I feel like I let her down.
As you know, life here has been a bit messy the past few years. When S had his first episode and landed in hospital, everything fell apart at the seems for me. The calendar was cleared so that I could work through things with S and guide the kids through the maze of emotions that went along with it. Our world came to a screeching halt. As it should have been.
Any upcoming plans to visit Nicaragua flew right out the window as did communication with the people who shared my love of Nicaragua and its people. Communication with Carolina did too.
At the time, I told myself that I was needed more at home. The mental health issues we were dealing with brought everything into question, including my work in Nicaragua with OrphaNetwork. I started volunteering at the church's food pantry as a way to fill the hole.
I rationalized my actions.
Not that she is completely dependent on me or my backpack care packages.
Honestly though, I still feel like I gave up on her. I feel like I gave up on myself and the work God put in front of me. I hope she can forgive me. And I hope I can forgive myself.
And then I ask myself who I am really speaking to. Of whom am I asking forgiveness? Carolina? Or God?
Maybe I should write Carolina a letter. Through my broken Spanglesh, maybe she will get the idea of what Im trying to say.
Do I tell her what I've been doing for the past 2 years? The whole story? Or maybe just part of the story? Just the highlights? Does it even matter to her why I haven't been in contact?
I feel the need to tell her about how our lives got so messy, why I quit writing and sending money. Why I broke my promise. How I couldn't tell my right from my left somedays. How I was doing well to make it to the psych appointments and talk to the school counselor about how his mental health state was affecting my boys. How even getting up in the morning was a task.
And then I see the irony of the situation...my wanting to explain how my life got messy to a girl who lives in a garbage dump. A girl who depends on a church feeding center for meals. A girl who I pray has not been forced to sell her body.
And I feel like an ass.
Maybe I shouldn't explain anything at all. Just apologize and pick up where I left off, with a backpack full of school supplies and a note attached.
When it comes right down to it I just want her to know that she is Important. Beautiful. Smart. Strong. Valuable. Worthy. Enough. Loved.
That God has a plan for her life bigger than she can even see right now. That she was put on this Earth for a purpose. That I believe in her.
And there it is.
The words I want to speak to her are the very words I need to hear myself.
The words I need her God whisper in my own ears.
Life got messy and you lost your way. I get it.
It happens and this was a necessary detour.
You are forgiven. and forgiven. and forgiven.
And loved. Oh, so loved child!
Smart and valuable.
Worthy and enough.
And through the pain, you are even stronger now.
But it is time to get back on track with the work I have given you.
Get back to the life I have laid out before you.
It is time to live the life you have been called to live.